Balloon artist brings smiles to people of Okayama

NOMURA Masako-Torchbearer of Okayama 

NOMURA Masako lives in Maniwa, where she shares her balloon art with the locals, and with the world.

Although her works have won many awards at both national and international competitions, she still continues to aim for new heights, and aspires to create balloon art a culture of its own.

She currently works as a balloon art instructor, however, the field of balloon art was almost entirely unknown when she began 22 years ago. People would be perplexed at the very name, and would ask 'Do you mean ad balloons!?’

Nevertheless, more and more people came to recognise balloon art as time passed, and thanks to her family and community’s support, she has fulfilled her dream of practising her art.

She wants to run to show her gratitude to all the people who have supported her, to inspire children to pursue their dreams and to cheer for the athletes who will participate in Olympic Games. Nomura promises to bring a smile to the faces of the people of Maniwa, her beloved home city.

How did your fascination with balloon art begin, and why did you decide to become an artist?

When I was in high school, I saw on TV a woman who was battling to promote balloon art in Japan. I still remember when my eyes finally opened up to the world of balloon art. I loved making things and drawing pictures ever since I was a child...perhaps I had an affinity for three-dimensional art. I was fascinated by the possibilities offered by balloon art, which allows the creation of such a variety of shapes.

What joys and hardships have you experienced over the past 22 years as a balloon artist?

I have always struggled to create new works in my effort to change and evolve. However, this struggle leads to a wonderful sense of achievement. As for joys, I was greatly encouraged when I received an art culture award from Okayama Prefecture for having my work recognised overseas. I thought it was a chance to have my work seen by more people.

What would you say to aspiring children who are aspiring to fulfill their dreams?

What you cannot do today, you might be able to do tomorrow, or in five years, or in ten years. No matter how little you do, if you do it every day, then one day it will bear fruit. I want them to continue to aspire, never give up, and walk the path that they believe in. Just as the tens of thousands of balloons I have inflated have led me to become a torchbearer, so should your daily efforts bring you success in many ways.

What do you like about Maniwa?

I just love the town where I grew up. The Asahi River, which is a Class A river, flows through the town. Maniwa is the kind of nostalgic town surrounded by nature that you would expect to see a single-carriage train running through. It’s a place of abundance where you can lead a simple life while enjoying the scenery as it changes with the well-defined seasons of Japan. It might be unremarkable, but I like to be with nature and have things move at a leisurely pace.

What do you want to tell people as torchbearer, and what are you excited about?

Experience has taught me that when one takes on the world, one cannot do everything alone. I was able to persevere and reach where I am now because I had people to support me and a place to go back to. Now I want to encouragement with all my strength, heart, and determination, as a balloon artist who has persevered, to express my gratitude to the people who have supported me, and to inspire the children who will live in the future.